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San Francisco International Airport


Ian Law, Chief Information Officer


San Francisco International Airport



Business Challenge

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was looking for ways to improve the taxi service for airport passengers with destinations close to the airport. A short trip is costly for a driver who has waited as much as two hours in the airport taxi holding lot. Under an older policy, drivers returning to the airport within 30 minutes of a nearby drop-off could return to the front of the taxi line, but this policy resulted in negative service experience for some passengers and operational and commerical challenges for taxi drivers and the airport.

Analytics Solution

SFO worked with the local taxi coalition on an alternate solution: a free mobile app named TaxiQ, which bases qualification for short trips on distance instead of time. Drivers get to the top of the queue if their last trip was within the predefined geo-fence, and they return in two hours. TaxiQ also allows drivers to view the current queue length at the holding lot and information about arriving and delayed flights by hour, up to 12 hours in the future. Additionally, the system sends push notifications to drivers when the holding lot is full and again when it re-opens. With this information, drivers can decide whether and when to come to SFO. In addition, SFO Landside Operations uses the data to analyze taxi demand and supply, wait times, traffic congestion, and short trip to non-short-trip ratios, and detect short-trip fraud.


The TaxiQ system has saved costs for SFO and taxi operators, eliminated taxi speeding, which puts the public and passengers at risk, and provided relevant information to taxi drivers as well as SFO business operations. Driver feedback indicates that they now make better use of their time instead of waiting in the holding lot. The app also helps them gain competitive edge over shared economy transportation modes.